2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
When a Christian is converted, there is an abrupt invasion of God's spirit into his spirit. It is many times a 'rude awakening'... a realization 'what am I doing?', 'where am I going?'.
It also presents a line of demarcation- which kingdom are you going to declare?
If US citizens have a child in another country, that child actually has dual citizenship until he is 18 years old. At 18, there has to be a declaration about his citizenship. This is a similar picture here, we are citizens in heaven but live on the earth. At some point there has to a declaration.... What is your home? Who is your king?
Now the Spirit helps to make it real clear... there is only one good choice. It isn't easy. It many times means sacrifice.God's people have a history of being pushed down, ignored, counted out, passed over, persecuted, mocked and ridiculed. The fact that I live in the US has been a great blessing because of the free environment and large number of common believers. But I feel the air changing... ever so slightly.
The key now is to use a renewed mind to produce new choices that reflect my actual citizenship.
The moment by moment choices I make everyday are creating patterns in my life. The patterns are producing my character. My brother Jerry Harwood loved to quote his coach, "Practice does not produce perfection... practice makes permanent."
I'd like to show you the world's pattern from a Biblical perspective. This is where the pressure is on... to squeeze us into a certain mold. But this pattern is seen as far as its fruit is concerned. Read what Paul says is II Tim. 3.
3:1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
When I get in front of my players or my students, I want them to see this as the people they do not want to be. Because of sin, though, this is our default mode.
It's in me. I love self.. I am materialistic and lust for luxury..I am proud...my arrogance just bursts out of me from time to time.... I can be verbally abusive.. I disobey authority all the time.. do I have to go on? One day just sitting in my car at a red light the realization hit me "I have violated every commandment of God" and my life wants to always get pulled in that direction.
So we have to stop... think.. and pursue a pattern that 'breaks the mold'. We repent of the direction we are going and practice righteous choices instead.
Romans 12- 16 gives us those practices. Things to do. Things to break tendencies.
The cool thing is that it is almost moment by moment and day by day. It is not a list in a notebook, it is not a sheet on the fridge.. it is living... dynamic.
"Then you will be able to test and approve.. what pleases God"
Romans To Do's:
1) Lower your view of yourself... I will cover this in more detail later. But I no longer have to compare and compete. I am who I am because God knows me, made me, chose me, and loves me. I do not feel shame or condemnation. I am free! I see my strengths and my weaknesses.. it is who I am. True humility is not throwing aspersions at yourself.. it is not thinking less of yourself... it is thinking of yourself less. I can get out of my little self and start living.
2) Find my shape and use my gift. God made you good at something.. find it and use it for Him. I will talk later about this. But the happiest people in the world are those who act in accordance with their heart desires to serve others to God's glory not worrying about what others think.
3) Love... more on this later. But this is huge and one that I am still an infant in. But this includes enemies...
4) Submit... yuck. We think only kids and teens are rebellious. Hah! When an authority tells you to do something that you don't want to do... how do you feel? What do you do?
5) Live soberly and simply, in expectancy of Christ's return. Be moderate and careful... more later.
6) Learn to choose in light of the 'weaker brother'- don't flaunt freedoms. More later...
7) Choose peace over criticism and condemnation. Seek unity with other believers.
8) Proclaim the gospel to all in word and deed.
9) Live joyous lives... have fun... embrace your circumstances and dance.
10) All of this together is........ WORSHIP
That is Romans 12-16 in a nutshell. All of it is simple... but profound. Easy... but impossible. It is a lifetime labor of love.
I will put a little more into these To Do's later... let's encourage one another to not get squeezed into the losing pattern of this world. But break the mold..... start today. It is never too late!